PRESENTING SAI BABA
ESTABLISHING WELCOMING SEVA
No copyright. Please copy and share.
PART I: WHAT YOU MIGHT NEED TO KNOW BEFORE PLANNING
YOUR SAI BABA PRESENTATION................................... 1
When and to whom to present Sai Baba 1
Be discerning about what to include and exclude 1
Be aware of preconceived notions and attitudes 2
Offset culture shock 3
Allow Him to weave His magic 3
PART II: BASICS REGARDING THE PRESENTATION ITSELF...................... 4
Break the ice 4
No money is ever solicited at Sai events 4
Develop your own style 5
Offer resources 5
Give information regarding your Center 5
Encourage joining your Center 5
PART III: HOW TO PREPARE AND WHAT TO
TAKE WITH YOU TO YOUR PRESENTATION................... 7
Notify the site 7
Make flyers and gather handouts 7
Examples of flyers and handouts
Advertisement flyer for the Introduction 8
Updated Official information folder from the Sathya Sai Baba Central
Council (not currently available at time of this writing) --
Resources for more information 9
Announcement for Sai study circle 10
Announcement for bahjans 11
Announcement for any upcoming special events 12
Center calendar listing all events, including seva 13
Mailing list sign-up sheet 14
Appoint a Welcoming Committee for your presentation 15
A list of things you will want to bring to your presentation 15
PART IV: MY OWN METHOD FOR PRESENTING SAI BABA....................... 16
The impossible assignment 16
Avoid interfering 16
PART V: OUTLINE OF MY OWN SAI PRESENTATION.........19
PART VI: SOME SPECIFICS OF MY PRESENTATION........................21
His life 21
His work 22
His teachings in His own words:
Unity--One God, one religion 27
Be happy! 29
Unity--we are One 30
The Golden Age 33
PART VII: SUGGESTIONS ABOUT HOW TO ANSWER FREQUENTLY
ASKED AND/OR DIFFICULT QUESTIONS.........................................................35
PART VIII: ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE................................................................41
A privilege for the whole community 41
Your life is my message. 41
PART IX: COMMITTEE FOR WELCOMING SEVA..............................................44
Proselytizing doesn’t work 43
Nurture, not coddle 43
Don’t be disappointed 44
Cultural differences 45
Suggestions about how to create a welcoming atmosphere 45
The meeting site 45
If they continue to attend 47
PART X: THE COSMIC GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING................................. 48
The invitation to offer a gift for Sai’s 80th birthday celebration is a most humbling privilege. It’s with love and gratitude to the Celebrant and Doer Himself that these efforts are proffered. We hope only that they please Him, and prove helpful to you in some way.
We must admit that for the past eight years, Cleveland Ohio (USA) has been enjoying an unusual quickening of interest in Sathya Sai Baba.
It began in the autumn of 1998, when my husband was invited to speak at a Protestant Church gathering. His mention of Sai Baba’s name when listing living spiritual leaders of interest, provoked queries. In response, my husband invited me to the podium.
While nothing pleases me more than dwelling on our beloved Baba, I was stunned!
I was not prepared, and am not a public speaker. But I am committed to do anything I think He wants of me, like it or not. And I perceived this as a command performance.
I really don’t know what I said. But I do remember that exactly one month later to the hour, a woman in the audience whom we’d never before met, accompanied us to Puttaparthi! As well, invitations began pouring in from other Churches and spiritual groups who wanted to know about Sai.
These meetings in turn triggered more invitations for the same, until our local Sai Center Study Circle became so swollen that finding a larger location became necessary.
And so it continues. At this point, many hundreds of folks in the greater Cleveland area have become consciously aware of Sai in this manner. Many have developed a sincere devotion, and have even traveled to Puttaparthi.
During these years, I have listened carefully to aspirant’s concerns, doubts, experiences, questions, etc. Baba has provided experiences offering an overview and unusual access into the process of remembering the Avatar, who is our very core.
Since we have word from Prasanthi that it is now time to begin to introduce Sai to the West, it would seem to be a responsibility for all of us to make that happen. Towards that end, it’s a pleasure to share these insights and experiences, in hope that some of them may be helpful to you and your Centers. Perhaps, at least you can be alerted to avoiding some of the pitfalls without falling in!
Since it has been requested, included is information about what has worked well for me, and a DVD of one of my presentations. As you will see, the film is not appropriate, nor meant to replace a live presentation. Though you may feel free to use anything that you find helpful, I share these pointers primarily as suggestions to trigger your own creative processes. This booklet is available for your use on www.Souljourns.net and soon to be on kingdomofSai.org. The video will soon be available on kingdomofSai.org.
Also included is a 56 minute DVD that you may find useful when reacquainting seekers with Sai. It features brief sound bites from interviews with many devotees. Each in his/her own delightful way, expresses love for Baba. Feel free to copy and use any or all in your Center. Starting 11-23-2005, thanks to the wonderful efforts of our friend Sai Rajesh Ramalingam, you will find these interviews (and more) available for viewing and use in full, on www.kingdomofSai.org.
Of course, it is imperative that you present Baba in a way that is comfortable for you and appropriate for your audience. We will be interested in learning about the new methods and styles that you and Baba invent together!
We thank Baba with all our hearts for blessing this booklet and the two DVDs enclosed, in December, 2005 at Prasanthi Nilayam.
This is a second edition, due to the welcome suggestion to change the term “newcomer”, as it is not accurate. No one is a newcomer to Sai Baba!
PLEASE NOTE: ALL DIRECT QUOTES FROM SAI BABAARE PRINTED IN ITALICS.
WHAT YOU MIGHT NEED TO KNOW BEFORE PLANNING A SAI PRESENTATION
When and to whom to present Sai Baba
Most of us have had the experience of enthusiastically offering information about Baba to people who are basically uninterested or who find the information absurd or frightening. It is a turn-off for them, and painful for us to watch these precious truths being disregarded or worse.
I feel that my guidance has been to offer information only when asked, and no more than is asked. For this reason, I do a Sai Presentation only when it is requested, and only if there is a genuine interest. Once I was invited to speak at a Church in our area, but I declined when it became clear to me that there was no demand for learning about Baba. The caller simply needed to fill an open spot on the speaker schedule.
Be discerning about what to include and exclude
I’ve learned that it’s best to resist the urge to convince people about Who Baba is. Only the Avatar Himself can convince or prove His identity, and He usually does that through personal experiences, not words. Only He knows the best time and manner to do that for each soul. With His grace, your presentation will be the beginning of that process, which can happen instantly, or take years or even lifetimes.
Be sensitive to what information is essential and what could constitute overload . An introduction is just that. Allow them the important process of pro-actively pursuing more information on their own, which Baba Himself will supervise perfectly. It has been my observation that allowing folks to request more and do their own detective work, rather than spoon feeding them, whets the appetite. It can also serve the purpose of weeding out those who have no genuine motivation.
After a formal presentation, it would be fun and easy to allow my enthusiasm for the topic to ramble, but I have learned to simply answer the questions asked. I trust that Baba will reveal Himself to each person as only He knows how.
Be aware of preconceived notions and attitudes
Be aware that it is a deep shock to the average westerner when it dawns that what you are telling them is that God has incarnated and walks the earth. If they are Christians, they are likely to feel conflicted about their previous assumption that this could only happen once, and did so in the case of Jesus. From this viewpoint, Baba can be perceived as a frightening contender for the loyalty they believe should be reserved only for Jesus. See Part V of this booklet for some specific suggestions about how one might answer this basic and frequent concern.
If you don’t already, you need to know that Indian gurus are generally viewed with suspicion in the US. There have been some well publicized gurus who have come from India to get rich, and have done so. Americans generally do not know
anything about the ancient tradition of true Indian saints and teachers.
There have also been several charismatic cult leaders that have caused
their members to suicide. This has spawned a generalized suspicion and fear of anything that resembles a cult. I think that the term “cult” is popularly (and erroneously) assumed to include anything that seems mysterious or exotic to the western mind.
Furthermore, the average westerner confuses the Hindu pantheon of Gods with primitive worship of a multitude of heathen gods. Keep this in mind, and make efforts to offset the impression that Baba is promoting Hinduism. Do not display photos of Ganesh, Krishna, etc.
It’s best to give only simple and basic information in a matter of fact style, so as not to overwhelm. At this point, it is best to spare them complex or foreign concepts, such as defining a Poorna Avatar, the trinity of the Sai Avatarship, the Lingam, reincarnation, Rama, Krishna, Baba’s having raised people from the dead, etc. At the beginning stages, such concepts can strike a westerner as wildly bizarre, and can be off-putting. This information will come to them later, as necessary, and as Baba wills it.
Offset culture shock
You are probably aware of the fact that the average American has not traveled outside of the States, and knows little or nothing about India. In fact, anything foreign can be perceived as intimidating. So be careful not to add culture shock to the stunning news of the Avatar.
Therefore try to use only the language of the audience. For example, in English, instead of using the word “darshan”, you could talk about “when Baba walks among the people who have come to see Him”. Bahjans can be termed “devotional singing”, etc.
A religiously neutral site is best, such as a living room rather than your puja room.
Wear clothing appropriate to your host culture, or what suits your audience, if you can.
Shake hands when it is offered, and accept brief hugs if necessary. All of that is well intended and customary among westerners.
Do not expect everyone to sit on the floor--most of them can’t! If your Center will make an exception for this occasion, allow men and women to sit together, so as not to distract them with that issue. They’ll have enough on their plates, just dealing with the notion of a God-Man.
Allow Him to weave His magic
You can only do your best, knowing that the outcome of your presentation is entirely in Baba’s hands. After your presentation, Baba will handle things in ways that you and I could never dream of, nor accomplish. Soon enough, if it is His Will, and in His manner and time, they will gracefully discover that which was wisely spared them at their first preentation.
BASICS REGARDING THE PRESENTATION ITSELF
Begin as close as possible to the announced time. Wait only a few extra minutes for latecomers to arrive, be greeted by the Welcoming Committee and receive their handouts. I once had the embarrassing experience of inviting a group of Westerners to a special Sai event at which the speaker was delayed. His talk was wonderful, but by the time he took the podium, my guests had tired of waiting and had departed.
Do keep your presentation under an hour, leaving about one half hour for questions and answers. It's been my experience that an hour and one half is about all they can absorb before glazing over. It’s better to leave them feeling hungry for more, rather than risk their tuning out due to fatigue or overload.
Break the ice
A very brief preamble is best, so as to leave time for questions and answers later.
Asking each person to give his/her first name and a one sentence reason for coming, can help break the ice. It should be stated that it’s perfectly okay to pass.
Be sure to let your joy about knowing the Avatar shine. In keeping with Baba’s own demeanor, be lighthearted, and don’t stifle your humor just because the topic is of momentous import.
No money is ever solicited at Sai events
This is a good time to make it very clear that if any money is being collected at the site, it is not for you. Nor is it for Sai Baba in any way, since He forbids soliciting funds. To keep this issue deadly clear, I do not recommend selling books or videos at an
initial presentation. Though Sai Center members know these items change hands without profit, that will not be apparent to the general populace.
Develop your own style
How you are comfortable presenting Baba is entirely up to you and Sai. It’s imperative that you adopt a method that allows you to be spontaneous and genuine, and to enjoy yourself. Later,I will tell you what has worked well for me, in case that might help jog your own creativity.
Be sure to bring and to show resources of particular interest to seekers. Point out that they have received information in their handouts about how to get books,videos and audios. I usually recommend the following for westerners:
Book: Sai Baba The Holy Man... and the Psychiatrist by Samuel Sandweiss
Book: Sathya Sai Baba and Jesus Christ, a Gospel for the Golden Age by
Book: A Catholic Priest Meets Sai Baba by Don Mario Mazzoleni
Video: His Work, the Work of Sri Sathya Sai Baba
Video interviews with devotees available on KingdomofSai.org beginning
11-23-2005, especially the “sampler” included with this booklet.
Give information regarding your Center
Close by inviting everyone to join your Center’s study circle, devotional singing, etc. Give them flyers complete with directions, so they can find the site. Offer them the opportunity to sign up for your Center’s mailing lists.
Encourage joining your Center
Prepare to be swamped with questions and requests of all kinds. It’s best to absorb
folks as soon as possible into the greater Sai Center, where the entire
community must accept responsibility for orienting them. (More about this later.) In this way, they can more quickly understand the comprehensiveness of Sai life and begin to participate.
I do not recommend a beginners group, because one cannot get a full picture of Sai life from the confines of a cloistered subdivision. A separate group for the purpose can create bonds and a comfort zone that delays or prevents their venturing into the larger community.
One such delay can also happen with study circles. Since westerners are familiar with study circles and not with bahjans or seva, their comfort zone in the Sai Community can stop at the weekly study circle. When this happens, it will take the encouragement, cooperation and an extension of friendliness by the greater Sai Community to overcome this seeming barrier. One suggestion to offset this tendency is to have bahjans and study circles together.
Anything that might encourage separation of any kind is to be avoided in an international, nondenominational community that is dedicated to fostering unity. We must be especially watchful, since the potential division between new members and old timers in Sai communities too often coincides with cultural differences. Every effort should be made to avoid encouraging such separation, lest the group become segregated. Segregation of any sort is quite the opposite of Baba’s teachings of Unity.
Once neophytes have been exposed to the full range of Sai life, welcomed warmly, encouraged to join in, and provided with a continuing friendly atmosphere, our hospitality duty is fulfilled. Thereafter, the degree of their involvement in the Sai Center is between each person and Sai, Himself.
HOW TO PREPARE AND WHAT TAKE WITH YOU TO YOUR PRESENTATION
Notify the site
Notify the site about how many chairs you will need and any parking arrangements that might be necessary. They will also need to know ahead of time about your audio/
visual and sound system requirements.
It’s helpful if you make sure that at least one long term devotee is present to help with tough questions.
Make flyers and gather handouts
Make all flyers necessary, and obtain all handouts you want to give. Be sure to keep
them updated. Always include clear driving and parking directions on every flyer.
See samples of the following:
-Updated official information pamphlet from the Sathya Sai Baba Central Council
(not available at the time of this writing)
-Resources for more information, including names and phone numbers of
members who can be available by phone for follow up questions and requests
-Announcement for Sai Study circle
-Announcement for Bahjans
-Announcements for any upcoming special events
-Center calendar listing all events, including seva
-Mailing list sign-up sheet
Publicize your Presentation as much as possible, starting at least a month or better ahead of time. Also provide flyers to your host site well ahead of time.
Be sure to make announcements at your Sai Center and by e-mail, inviting members to bring anyone who has interest in Sai.
AVATAR OF OUR AGE
MONDAY, OCTOBER 11th, 2004, at 7:00 pm
at the Fairmount Presbyterian Church in Cleveland Heights
(directions attached below)
“I have come to light the lamp of love in your hearts
to see that it shines day by day with added luster.”
“Let the different faiths exist, let them flourish,
and let the glory of God be sung in all languages
and a variety of tunes.”
“There is only one religion, the religion of love.”
Sai Baba is alive and well and living in India.
Come learn about this Man of Miracles, Who says He has come
to raise consciousness throughout the world.
Knowing Him can transform you and your life forever.
EVERYONE IS ALWAYS WELCOME
TO SAI EVENTS,
SO BRING YOUR FRIENDS!
WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT SAI BABA?
BOOKS, CD’s, VIDEOS RECOMMENDED BOOKS FOR BEGINNERS
Sathya Sai Book Center The Holy Man and the Psychiatrist
305 West First Street by Samuel H. Sandweiss, M.D.
Tustin, CA 92780-3108 Sathya Sai Baba and Jesus Christ
tel: 714-669-0522 by Peter Phipps
fax: 714-669-9138 A Catholic Priest Meets Sai Baba
SathyaSaiBooks.com by Don Mario Mazzoleni
sathyasai.org/inform/tustin.htm Autobiography of a Yogi
by Paramahansa Yogananda
SATHYA SAI NEWSLETTER, USA above address, phone, fax, website,
bimonthly (6 issues a year), $6.00 yearly, cassettes available for the blind
WEBSITES RADIO SAI
ACTIVITIES: Humanitarian service projects, study circles, children’s classes,
devotional singing, special events, special speakers, meditation
SEE CLEVELAND ACTIVITY SCHEDULE on CLEVELAND WEBSITE
CALL THE SAI CENTERS (and their SATELLITES) IN YOUR REGION
East Side Cleveland Sai Center Arun Venkatesan 440-201-6152
Mentor Sue and Jiten Dey 440-255 8745
Chardon Candi Bukky 440-286-7439
Solon Sharmistha & Sandeep Chawla 440-542-1723
West Side Cleveland Center Nirmala & Prasad Kondapalli 440-572-2547
Akron Sai Center Jenny Naidu 330-668-6981
Canton Sai Center Seema & Sanjeev Dewan 330-966-6669
HAVE QUESTIONS? JUST WANT TO TALK/LISTEN ABOUT BABA? CALL US!
Debbi Mayo 440-286-8866 Carolyn Myers 216-229-0577
Jeanne Harris 440-572-5331 Suresh Viswanathan 440-498-1733
Joan Yocom 216-261-0463 James Van Hala 440-716-1504
SAI STUDY CIRCLE
MONDAY EVENINGS AT 7:00
(call first Bob Burrows for any changes, 216-521-3241)
Fairmount Presbyterian Church
2757 Fairmount Blvd.
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
at the Corner of Scarborough/Coventry/Fairmount Boulevard,
opposite St. Paul's Episcopal Church
EVERYONE IS ALWAYS WELCOME TO SAI EVENTS, SO BRING FRIENDS!
The Fullerton Room, upstairs (wheelchair accessible building)
Lighted, secure parking lot in rear
Please enter through the back entrance.
DO NOT park in fire lanes or in front of a garage, or you’ll be towed!
1. From I-271, take the Cedar/Brainard Rd. exit
2. From I-271 south-bound, turn left at the end of the ramp,
then at the light turn right onto Cedar road, going west.
From I-271 north-bound, loop around till you are
on Cedar road, going west.
3. Once you are on Cedar going west, it will be about 10 min.
Pass Richmond, Green, Warrensville, Lee Roads
4. Turn left onto Coventry Road.
5. Proceed about 2 miles till just before Fairmount Blvd. (which bears left)
6. Turn a hard left (east) onto Scarborough Road and an immediate right
into the parking lot in rear of Church. Parking lot is lighted and secure.
DO NOT park in fire lanes or in front of a garage, or you’ll be towed!
If the parking lot is full, please park on Scarborough Road.
Enter through back entrance.
This is a wheelchair accessible building. Take the elevator or stairs
to the Fullerton Room upstairs on the second floor.
CLEVELAND EAST SIDE SAI CENTER
FRIDAY BAHJANS (Devotional Singing)
START AT 8:15
DIRECTIONS TO EAST SIDE SAI CENTER
South Euclid Hillcrest United Methodist Church
1534 So. Green Rd in South Euclid
The church is located on the west side of Green Road, one tenth
mile south of Mayfield Rd. It is across the street from
St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church.
From 271 you can exit Mayfield Rd., heading west.
Stay on Mayfield several miles, past Richmond Rd., to So. Green Rd. (pass
Dairy Queen then McDonalds, there is a CVS on the corner)
Turn left on So. Green Rd. The church is on the right.
EVERYONE IS ALWAYS WELCOME TO SAI EVENTS,
SO BRING A FRIEND!
WANT TO BE ON THE
SAI CENTER E-MAILING LIST?
DO YOU HAVE ANEW E-MAIL ADDRESS?
NAME E-MAIL ADDRESS PHONE SNAIL MAIL
Author of INNER EXPERIENCES
from Midland, Michigan
will come to talk with the Cleveland Sai Centers’ families and friends
SATURDAY, AUGUST 14th, at 1:30 p.m.
SHIVANGINI and her husband GYANI
will be available
to visit with small groups/individuals
SUNDAY, AUGUST 15th, between 12:30 and 2:00 p.m.
SAI CENTER EVENTS ALWAYS WELCOME EVERYONE,
SO BRING FRIENDS!
(Bring a folding chair and toys for your kids to play with!)
Please park on the street to leave driveway clear for
disabled drop-off and pick-up.
Jody and Ted’s house
29076 Gates Mills Blvd.
Pepper Pike, Ohio 44124
DIRECTIONS TO FOLLOW
Appoint a Welcoming Committee for your presentation, who will:
-greet everyone and make introductions all around
-give each person a name tag with the simplest version of his/her first name
printed in large letters
-be sure each person gets a prepared packet of information
-tend to any disabled folks as necessary
-supervise parking if necessary
-invite each newcomer to sign up to be included in regional Sai mailing list
A list of things you will want to bring to your presentation:
-books and videos to show
-loudspeaker (I use an inexpensive karaoke machine that is easily transported and
just plugs in.)
-VCR, if needed
-DVD player if needed
-TV, if needed
-video pr DVD film if needed. (Don’t forget to queue up the video ahead of time
to start at the right place.)
-a friendly looking photo of Baba if you are not showing a video
-a box of tissues (People will cry --you’ll see!)
-plenty of packets of flyers and handouts
-name tags and big markers
-sign up sheet for mailing list
-Don’t forget your glasses!
MY OWN METHOD FOR PRESENTING SAI BABA
The impossible assignment
Upon being unexpectedly faced with the task of presenting Sai, I knew immediately that I could not do it. He is so far beyond our understanding and our ability to communicate, that it is simply an impossible task. It seemed to me that only He could accomplish this, and that were He to do so, it would be through experience rather than with language. So I relinquished the task to Him to create this experience as He wishes.
With prayer, it came to me that while showing a film of Baba showering love during darshan, I could read to the audience His teachings in His own words. This way, I am able to offer both visual and auditory information from the Source.
This compelling combination seems to create an environment conducive to receptivity for an experience of His love. As I watch the faces of the audience while they view His face and listen to His words, with very few exceptions they are mesmerized, eyes glued to the screen. Many weep openly.
My job is simply to avoid interfering, and step aside, enabling the intimate process that must occur between Guru and chela. The stage is set for the Avatar to weave His magic!
While prayerfully asking Baba to show me how He’d like me to present Him, one word kept coming into my mind: Lullaby.
At first, this seemed to be random mind chatter, the kind one wants to quell. But then I
remembered how sweetly Baba sings to us before each discourse, and how that always reminds me of a mother singing a lullaby to soothe her child.
It occurred to me that one’s reintroduction to Sai is a moment long awaited by each soul. It is a balm to our beleaguered psyches, a yearned for homecoming to Mother. This seemed to be a cue for me to read His words slowly, in a soft and soothing manner, savoring all the reverence I feel for them. My intention is to create a receptive mood in the listener, much as a lullaby might. And this method seems to do just that.
It wasn’t until much later that a most helpful friend sent to me this quote, in which Baba Himself uses the word “lullaby”:
The voice of God can be heard in the region of your heart when the
tongue is stilled and the storm is tilled and the waves are calm.
There will be no temptations for others to shout when you talk to them
in whispers. Set the level of the tone yourself; as low as possible, as
high as necessary to reach the outermost boundary of the circle you
are addressing. Conserve sound, since it is the treasure of the
element akasa, an emanation from God Himself. Reason can prevail
only when arguments are advanced without the whipping up of sound.
Silence is the speech of the spiritual seeker. Soft and sweet speech is
the expression of genuine love. Hate screeches, fear squeals, conceit
trumpets. But love sings lullabies. It soothes. It applies balm.
Practice the vocabulary of love; unlearn the language of hate and
To ignite your creative juices, I include for you:
-a brief outline of my presentation
-the carefully chosen quotes I read, including places to pause
-a film of my presentation itself, for you to use as inspiration for your own
(Please note: This film does not lend itself to, nor is it meant to
be used in place of a live presentation. You will see that it lacks the impact
only a live presentation can offer. However, you are welcome to use the
quotes and anything else you may find helpful. The video I show is
called “Pure Love” and was filmed and compiled by Peter Rae. If you would
like to use the same film, it is available at The Sathya Sai Book Center of
-a film of brief but inspirational sound bites from interviews with Sai’s loving devotees
(Note: Complete versions of each of these interviews,the Sai presentation and more, will be available for your use on 11-23-05 at kingdomofSai.org.)
OUTLINE OF MY OWN SAI PRESENTATION
I Committee welcomes folks as they arrive, giving each a packet of handouts and
a name tag.
II Brief greeting
-I state my name, ask each to say his/her first name and (optionally) add one
sentence about why he/she came today.
-I announce that there is never any solicitation of money at any
Sai event because it is forbidden by Sai Baba.
- I preview how I intend to proceed: Sathya Sai Baba is beyond explaining, so it
is my hope that I might aid you in receiving an experience of Him.
I’ll be showing a film while telling you about His life and work, and reading
His teachings in His own words.
-I clue them in that there is much more going on in this film than meets the
eye. Baba is in fact healing, listening, answering questions, comforting and
transforming lives and hearts.
III Film: Pure Love by Peter Rae
IV Read during film, as follows
- His life: brief summary
- His work: brief overview
Free clean drinking water
Free medical care
Feeding the poor in the villages
Worldwide Sai Organizations
-His teachings in His own words:
Unity--One God, One religion
Unity--We are One
The Golden Age
V I add a brief personal closing about how Sai Baba changed my life.
VI I tell them where to get more information and point out that they have already
received a flyer indicating resources and names and phone numbers to call.
-I show books, videos.
-I invite all to join Sai Center events.
-I invite all to sign up for Sai Mailing list.
VII I take questions for about one half hour.
VIII I thank my host and audience for the opportunity, joy and privilege of presenting
Sathya Sai Baba.
SOME SPECIFICS OF MY PRESENTATION
NOTE: These sections are printed as if to be read aloud, so appropriate pauses
have been added.
Sathya Sai Baba was born in South India on 11-23-1926 as Sathyanarayana Raju.
As a child, Baba remembers being so poor that when His clothes tore, He repaired them using thorns, because they had no needle and thread.
It was well known that He had uncommon compassion and wisdom and generosity, and that He gave His helpings of food to beggars, eating almost nothing Himself.
He exhibited scholarly knowledge of things He could not have studied.
At an early age, He composed exquisite music in classical Indian style, music that was used at religious festivals, and that contained the knowledge and wisdom of a sage.
Villagers report that at the age of 6, He began materializing objects out of thin air for His playmates, usually candy. Even as a child, He was beloved and revered.
In 1940, when He was 14 years old, He declared to His family that He would henceforth be known as Sai Baba, which means mother-father.
He further declared that His mission was to renew spirituality in the world by teaching truth, right conduct, peace, love and nonviolence.
Now, in that same village, He has an ashram or retreat center that is the size of a
Tens of thousands of devotees from all over the world and from all religions and cultures, gather there to see Sai Baba walk among them, which He has done twice a
day, almost every day since 1940.
At His 70th birthday He fed well over a million people for a week, at no cost to them.
(Note: One must frequently update this information, as Baba’s work continues at
warp speed. This section was last updated 9-04.)
Sai Baba is showing us how society should ideally function.
He tells us that society should supply free to everyone:
-clean drinking water
For the poor in India He has established programs to supply all of these free of charge.
Since 1995, He has provided free drinking water to over 1,000 villages in India.
-This includes a population of 2 million of the poorest of the poor.
-This is an undertaking the government of India has never been able to
- It is the single largest social benefit project carried out by a private
organization anywhere, ever.
-And it was done without once soliciting funds.
He has constructed two immense, state-of-the-art Super Specialty Hospitals in India
and two smaller General Hospitals, which provide free services to the poor.
These services range from open heart surgery to instruction about hygiene.
Emphasis is placed upon healing not only the body, but the mind and soul as well.
Sai Baba has established schools of the highest caliber, ranging from elementary
through post graduate work.
-These schools produce graduates who are in demand throughout the
-Their high academic achievement is not the primary goal of Sathya Sai
-The goal is not merely information, but transformation, and the building of
character for society’s leaders of tomorrow.
Baba’s devotees and students distribute food, clothing, medical care and
love to the poor villages in India.
During October of the year 2000, work proceeded around the clock to prepare and distribute 300 tons of food door to door. That is 1/2 a million servings.
Sai Baba founded and leads membership in the Sathya Sai Organization in over 170
The members of these Sai Centers are united by a common goal: spiritual growth.
-Centers study the teachings of Sai Baba and the sacred literature of all religions.
They gather for devotional singing and humanitarian service projects.
-The membership includes people from all walks of life, excluding no one.
-Center programs are compatible with all of the world’s major religions.
-There are never any fees, nor are donations ever requested.
His teachings in His own Words: Love
I have come to light the lamp of love in your hearts,
to see that it shines day by day with added luster.
I have come to tell you of this unitary faith,
this spiritual principle,
this path of love
this virtue of love
this duty of love,
this obligation to love.
It is enough if love is cultivated,
the love that knows no distinction between oneself and another.
It does not matter a bit if you have no faith in Me or God.
Have faith in yourselves,
that is enough.
For who are you really?
Each one of you is Divinity, whether you know it or not...
Man must know his pricelessness...
Love all beings as manifestations of the same divinity
that is the very core of yourself.
Love all beings, that is enough.
Spread love; be full of love.
If you cannot love man,
how can you hope to love God?
Love must see the best in others and not the worst.
Love cannot ignore the divinity in others.
The greatest of the virtues is love.
If you do not feel the call at the sight of human distress, disease or
deviation from the right,
how can you muster the determination and dedication necessary
to serve the unseen, inscrutable, mysterious God?
When you do not love man,
your heart will not love God.
Despising brother man, you cannot, at the same time, worship God;
if you do, God will not accept that hypocrisy.
God is resident in every heart;
so, if you serve any one,
that service reaches the God within him...
Man can realize his mission on earth
only when he reveres all others as Divine.
And man has to worship God in the form of Man.
God appears before him as a blind beggar,
a decrepit old man,
or a mad man.
You must see even behind those veils
the Divine Embodiment of Love...
Seen through the eyes of love...
the world is one vast kin.
The best spiritual discipline that can help man is love...
let it sprout into love for the group around you
and grow into love for all mankind...
and let the love enfold all things and beings in all the world.
Proceed from less love to more love,
narrow love to expanded love.
...Expand into universal love,...
Man’s native characteristic is divine love
his nature is divine love,
his breath is divine love.
Love is God.
God is love.
Where there is love, there God is...
Love more and more people.
Love them more and more intensely.
Transform the love into service...
that is the highest spiritual discipline.
Love as long as life lasts.
My life is my message.
My message is love.
His teachings in His own Words: Unity--One God, one religion
There is only one religion - the religion of love
There is only one caste or race - that of humanity
There is only one language - the language of the heart
There is only one God - and He is omnipresent
Names may be different...
The terminology may be different, but the concept is not....
the undercurrent of energizing power in all cases is love
love towards all beings.
The lord may be addressed by any name that tastes sweet to your tongue,
or pictured in any form that appeals to your sense of wonder and awe.
You can sing of Him as Ganapathi,... Jesus, Maitreya, Sakti;
or you can call on Allah or the Formless
or the Master of all Forms.
It makes no difference at all.
He is the beginning, the middle and the end;
the basis, the substance and the Source.
Believe that all hearts are motivated by the One and only God,
that all names in all languages and all forms man can conceive,
denote the One and only God.
His adoration is best done by means of Love
Cultivate that attitude of Oneness
between men of all creeds, all countries and all continents.
That is the message of love I bring.
That is the message I wish you to take to heart.
The various religions and faiths that feel separate and distinct
are all fostered by a single stream of love.
I have not come to speak on behalf of any exclusive religion.
I have not come on any mission of publicity
for any sect or creed or cause;
nor have I come to collect followers for any doctrine.
No need to change your chosen (form of) God and adopt a new one
when you have seen Me and heard Me.
Let the different faiths exist;
let them flourish,
and let the glory of God be sung in all languages and in a variety of tunes.
That should be the ideal.
Respect the differences between the faiths,
and recognize them as valid
as long as they do not extinguish the flame of unity.
If each person lives the ideals propounded by the founders of his religion,
unaffected by greed or hate,
then the world will be a happy and peaceful habitation for man.
Each should practice his own religion sincerely.
A Christian should be a good Christian.
A Hindu should be a good Hindu.
A Muslim should be a good Muslim.
Let each one be a true practitioner of his religion.
No one should criticize or hate another’s religion....
“All are one. Be alike to everyone.” declared Jesus.
The one God is common in all.
My objective is the establishment of...Dharma which believes in one God
as propitiated by the founders of all religions.
So none has to give up his religion or deity,
but through them worship the one God in all.
I have come not to disturb or destroy
but to confirm and vindicate everyone in his own faith.
His teachings in His own Words: Be happy!
My mission is to spread happiness.
Come just one step forward,
I shall take a hundred steps toward you.
Shed just one tear;
I shall wipe a hundred from your eyes.
I bless only thus: may your bliss grow.
I have come to give you the key to the treasure of bliss,
to tell you how to tap into that spring,
for you have forgotten the way to blessedness.
I am always full of bliss.
That is why I am able to impart joy to you
and make your burden lighter.
Happiness is essential for God realization.
It is one of the major gates to divinity.
Happiness is natural.
It is to be expected, it is nothing surprising.
For it is the nature of the Self, which everyone is.
This is why one is craving for constant happiness, bliss.
Joy is your birth-right.
Peace is your inmost nature.
Live in the present and be happy.
Entertain only happy thoughts.
The bliss that you give,
the love that you share,
these alone will be your lasting possessions.
Happy, happy, be very happy.
His teachings in His own Words: Unity--We are One
I have come to serve you.
Consider the meaning of the name, Sai Baba.
“Sa” means divine;
“ai” or “ayi” means Mother
and Baba means Father.
The name indicates the divine mother and father.
Your physical parents might cultivate love with a dose of selfishness,
but this Sai Mother and Father
showers affection only
for leading you towards victory in the struggle for self realization.
Bring me the depths of your minds,
no matter how grotesque,
no matter how ravaged by doubts or disappointments.
I will not reject you.
I am you Mother.
Bring what you have,
your sorrows and griefs,
worries and anxieties,
and take from me
joy and peace, courage and confidence.
Bring me all ... and leave it here
then take from me what I have:
I do not want you to extol me;
I shall be satisfied if you rely upon me.
I bring tears of joy into your eyes
and also I wipe the tears of grief away.
I can solve any problem
I am yours,
you are mine.
I do not await even an invitation.
Our relationship is not external,
it goes deeper into the realms of spirit.
I am with you and in you,
so I need no welcome or special request.
I am yours
whether you like it or not;
you are Mine,
even if you hate Me or try to avoid me
I am in you.
You are in Me.
There is no distance and no distinction.
You have come home.
This is your house.
My house is your heart!
Why fear when I am here?
Put all your faith in Me.
I shall guide and guard you.
Do not posit distance between you and me;
do not interpose the formalities
of Guru-student relationship
or even the attitudinal distinctions of the God-devotee relationship
between you and me.
I am you;
you are I;
that is the truth.
There is no distinction...
You are the waves;
I am the ocean.
and be free,
The lord has come in human form
and moves about among men,
so that He can be listened to,
revered and obeyed.
He has to speak the language of men
and behave like human beings,
as a member of the species.
The Avatar behaves in a human way
so that mankind can feel kinship,
but rises into His superhuman heights
so that mankind can aspire to reach the heights,
and through that aspiration,
actually reach him.
Realizing the Lord within you as the motivator
is the task for which He comes in human form.
Everyone has to be asked to approach me and experience me.
In order to get an idea of a mountain,
it is not enough if you show a stone and say,
“The mountain is a million times the size of this.”
You will have to see an actual mountain,
at least from a distance.
Your worldly intelligence cannot fathom the ways of God.
He cannot be recognized by mere cleverness of intelligence.
You may benefit from God,
but you cannot explain him.
Cynics carp without knowledge.
If they ...cultivate direct experience,
they can understand me.
This is the method of utilizing me.
I have come to serve you.
His teachings in His own Words: The Golden Age
No matter where you go...
know that I will be there inside you,
guiding you every step of the way...
You are my very own,
dearer than dear to me.
I will protect you like the eyelid protects the eye.
You already have me,
and I have you.
I will never leave you
and you can never leave me...
in time everything will be given to you.
there is no need to worry about anything...
You are all sacred souls
and all have parts to play in the unfolding drama of the Golden Age.
more powerful and more pervasive than any that man has undergone so far
but deeper and more basic, is now on.
It is the spiritual revolution.
This revolution has love as both its means and its end.
It will awaken the springs of love all over the world
in the fields of education, morality, law, politics, commerce and science.
It will inspire man to loving service,
revealing the brotherhood of man
and the fatherhood of God.
wherever he lives,
whatever his status
and whichever his fate,
can share in this revolution
and be an instrument for the liberation of mankind
from its own ignorance.
The spiritual revolution
will sharpen the inner vision of man,
so that he can see his own reality.
Its impact will envelop and enrich all human communities
and transform mankind
into a stream of willing helpers,
flowing smoothly to the limitless sea of divinity.
Many hesitate to believe that things will improve,
that life for all will be happy and full of joy,
that the Golden Age will ever recur.
Let me assure you
that this Avatar has not come in vain
and will succeed in averting the crisis
that has come upon humanity.
This is a great chance.
Be confident that you will be liberated.
Know that you are saved.
SUGGESTIONS ABOUT HOW TO ANSWER FREQUENTLY ASKED AND/OR DIFFICULT QUESTIONS
NOTE: There is an excellent section of questions and answers on
page 155 in the book, “Sai Baba The Holy Man... and the Psychiatrist”
by Samuel Sandweiss. It’s a good idea to carefully review this section
before your presentation.
Q. I looked up Sai Baba on the internet and there is lots of negativity there. What do you have to say about it?
A. Yes, we aware that is on the Internet.
Sai has proven to me Who He is through personal experiences, so obviously I do not believe any of it. Stories like that are completely inconsistent with all that I know about Sai Baba. In all my years as a devotee, I have personally never seen or heard about anything remotely negative having to do with Sai Baba’s words or behavior.
Every famous personage is subject to attacks and erroneous gossip, especially those who are reputed to be holy men. Jesus’s life and death is a perfect example.
Sai is a universal teacher with a worldwide following of millions. With numbers that large, it is inevitable that there would be some people who have personal agendas.
India is the world’s largest democracy, with the world’s largest western system of courts and law. India has dismissed as baseless all negative innuendo having to do with Sai Baba.
Baba invites us to do our own personal investigation of Him, in order to experience
and satisfy ourselves about Who He is.
Q. Is this a cult?
A. The characteristics of a cult are quite the opposite of what is found in Sai‘s teachings and Sai Centers.
For example: Sai forbids all forms of financial solicitation. Nor does He always accept voluntary donations. He accepts only donations made with pure motivation.
Sai devotees are not encouraged to give up their lives for Sai, but rather to continue their current involvements and religious commitments.
Sai teaches the exact opposite of exclusivity and elitism. That is, He tells us that God loves everyone equally, and that each soul will eventually reach the Goal. Baba assures us that He has come to help us all, whether we know of Him or not.
Far from using coercive conversion methods, Sai Baba admonishes His devotees to tell about Him only when asked.
There are no secret teachings, dogma, initiations, mantras, etc.
Q. Where does Sai get the money for His charity projects?
A. Sai has never asked for money. In fact, He has never asked for anything except that we love one another. He has said that, “Were it My will, it would rain money.”
Under certain circumstances He allows donations, but they are never solicited. If there are not enough funds, a project is canceled.
His ashrams and hospitals are run primarily by volunteerism.
He Himself owns nothing and lives very simply. I am told that, like Mother Teresa, He has three cotton robes: one in use, one in reserve and one being laundered. I have never seen Him even wear shoes, which are a sign of prestige in a developing country.
Q. Is Sai Baba Hindu?
A. He was reared in a Hindu family, but He advocates no particular religion. He
states that He has not come to found a religion. On the contrary, He bids us to
be a “true practitioner” of whatever religion we follow.
Many of the holy days and festivals of the world’s major religions are celebrated at Baba’s ashrams.
In fact, the logo of the Sathya Sai Organization includes:
the Hindu Om
the Christian cross
the Islamic crescent and star
the Jewish star
the Zoroastrian fire symbol
the Buddhist wheel.
Show the logo.
Q. Is it necessary to go to India to see Sai Baba?
A. No. He tells us that He is resident in every heart, and therefore communicates with each of us on a heart to heart basis, 24-7.
Though it is not at all necessary, many who have the health, the opportunity, and the means, choose to visit Sai Baba in India.
Q. Do Baba and His teachings conflict with my belief in Jesus?
A. Only if you also believe that God is so limited as to be capable of manifesting in a human body only once throughout all of history. How can we decide what God’s limits are? Or that He did and should only come to our aid once?
There are several books that examine the many similarities between Jesus’s and Baba’s teachings, lives and words. Here are some of them:
“Sathya Sai Baba and Jesus Christ, A gospel for the Golden Age”
by Peter Phipps
“Greater Than You Know...Sathya Sai Baba, Jesus Christ, and Christianity”
by Peter Phipps
“Words of Jesus and Sathya Sai Baba” compiled by Dr. H. K. Takyi and
Kishin J. Khubchandani
“An Eastern View of Jesus Christ...Divine Discourses of Sathya Sai Baba”
translated by Lee Hewlett and K. Nataraj
“In defense of Jesus Christ and other Avatars” by Vinayak Krishna Gokak
“Essence of Divinity” by Elaine Gries
“Christmas...A Joyous Celebration of Divine Love and Peace” by The Sri
Sathya Sai Baba Centers of Northern California & Nevada
You may think of Sai Baba in any way you choose. For you, He may be a complement and affirmation of Jesus. Or you could think of Him as an expansion and updated reincarnation of Jesus. Knowing Him can strengthen your faith in Jesus, rather than conflict.
Sai needs nothing from us and only asks that we “utilize” Him.
Q. Could Sai Baba be “the Anti-Christ” or the “false Christ” spoken of in the Bible?
A. Not according to what the Bible itself has to say about it.
“...Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ?
This is the Antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son...”
(I John2: 18-23, abridged)
One need not delve too deeply to find that Sathya Sai Baba affirms Jesus and His teachings. Baba often quotes Jesus and advocates that Christians be the best Christians that they can be.
“...Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing...
You will know them by their fruits.” (Mathew7: 16, 20)
You must investigate for yourself Sai’s life, work, teachings and His devotees, in order to witness that they attest to the highest standards.
It’s our duty to be discerning. No one wants to follow “a false Christ”. And similarly, our lives are too precious to allow ourselves to overlook or neglect the possibility that Sathya Sai Baba is the Christ consciousness embodied among us again.
Q. What does Baba mean to you, and how has your life changed since learning of Him?
A. It’s best to prepare an answer for this, or you won’t know what to say first!
Q. How and when did you learn about Sai?
A. Be prepared to answer this one with your own brief story.
Q. Would you tell us some of your own experiences with Him?
A. Prepare one or two brief stories for this one. Don’t try to bowl them over.
Q. What was the reaction of your family and friends?
A. Good luck with this one!
Q. I’ve heard Him called the “Man of Miracles”. Does He perform miracles?
A. Yes, He does. He says He uses His miracles like “peppermints for children” and they are by far not the most important thing about Him.
“ You have come to get from Me tinsel and trash, the petty cures and
promotions, worldly joys and comforts. Very few of you desire to get
from Me the thing I have come to give you, namely liberation itself.”
... “ Do not give importance to miracles. Do not exaggerate their
significance. The greatness of My power does not reside in these
miracles, it consists only in My Love...All the ostensible miracles
are only droplets of that Ocean of Love. Do not be dazzled by the
droplets. Recognize the ocean and come to dip yourselves therein.”
Q. What is an avatar?
A. We all know that a guru is a teacher. In India, usually one becomes a spiritual teacher through much study and rigorous aesthetic practices; such as silence, meditation and fasting. By contrast, an avatar is born with the knowledge and wisdom for which the rest of us strive. Usually this is exhibited at an early age.
According to Sai, there have been many avatars.
Q. Why are so few women shown in the film “Pure Love”?
A. At Baba’s ashram and at most Sai events, men and women sit separately, in order to limit distractions. The camera in this film was operated by Peter Rae, who, of course, had to be located on the men’s side of the amphitheater. As many women visit Baba as men do, and He usually grants each side His attention.
Q. Why do you say Sairam?
Much like namaste, it is a reminder that the one God is in each of us.
“When you meet each other, do not shout hello or bye-bye, or some
silly chatter. Let the moment of meeting be sanctified by the
remembrance of God.”
ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE
A privilege for the whole community
Though every Sai Center needs a specific Committee for Welcoming Seva with several subcommittees, you will find that integrating people into Sai life and
your Sai Community is a responsibility and a joy for the whole Center.
Though there are many specific tasks involved for everyone, the most important of them is that existing members assume a habitual welcoming and friendly attitude, which creates a climate of hospitality.
A welcoming attitude towards newcomers may not be easy for everyone, or in every case. However, knowing that Baba teaches us that He has come for everyone, that separateness is not in keeping with the fact that we are all One; we must at least
“fake it till we make it”.
By ”fake it till we make it” I mean, that if we extend ourselves and assume some welcoming tasks, that involvement will soon bring its rewards. They in turn will create a genuine attitude of gratitude regarding newcomers to the Organization.
For example, one might gain a surprising new friendship, the enrichment of a deeper understanding of folks different from ourselves, the thrill of observing Baba as He transforms lives and souls, the realization of the great privilege of being His instrument.
Each individual and community stands only to gain in every way from assimilating newcomers into the Sai Center.
YOUR life is My message.
The gain for seekers in having close contact with long term devotees is immeasurable. Interaction with true devotees is not only uplifting, but it is how we
learn who Sai is and what it looks like to lead a Sai life. The value of this role modeling and teaching cannot be overestimated, nor should it be overlooked as a blessed Seva in itself.
When I first learned about Sai in 1993, I remember with everlasting gratitude
and love those who warmly welcomed me into the Cleveland Sai Center. That was a major factor in my beginning a Sai lifestyle.
As well, I remember attending one bahjan session early on, at which none of those friendly folks were present. Not only did no one speak to me, but everyone seemed reluctant to respond in a friendly manner to my overtures. I was left sadly wondering if I’d inadvertently done something unacceptable, or if perhaps those folks didn’t really want me there.
Because I come from a culture in which lack of friendliness is considered tantamount to rudeness, this is not the kind of reception to which I am accustomed. It was confusing and did not feel good. Now that I’ve come to know everyone well, I know that it was only shyness, not ill will, that was the reason for the seeming coldness. This is an impression no Sai devotee wants to emanate, and it can easily be avoided if Centers are attuned to cultural differences and specific ways to extend a warm welcome.
COMMITTEE FOR WELCOMING SEVA
If your Center does even one Sai Baba Presentation, you will
discover that there’s lots to do to help the neophytes learn, to make them feel welcome, and thereafter to integrate them into your Sai Center.
Ideally, the committee should be a healthy mix of cultures, sexes, age categories, old timers and relatively newcomers to the Center. This committee requires the free time to respond to immediate needs, so cannot be previously over committed to other sevas.
Proselytizing doesn’t work
In order not to be perceived as proselytizing, I feel it’s best not to contact an attendee after the initial presentation, unless they request it or give specific permission to do so. Rest assured, you will be busy enough with those that are requesting books, info and a million other things that you cannot anticipate.
Nurture, not coddle
Newcomers’ requests cannot be overlooked, but I’ve learned that to
spoon feed overmuch, can create a dependency that you will need to jettison when you must rise to the needs of the next batch of those reacquainting themselves with Sai.
Therefore, to avoid creating couch potatoes, I have adopted a policy of speaking obligingly while directing folks about how to take
initiative to find/do what they need, rather than my doing everything for them. Furthermore, requiring a person to take initiative, tends to stimulate and clarify motivation for him/her. This has the added benefit that they will get to know others in the Center.
Don’t be Disappointed
It can take a long time for people to understand what Sai life involves, and to make space in their lives for it. Especially if they are westerners, it often takes several years. This is due to many things.
You will see that it often dawns very slowly that Sai Baba may want us to make major changes in change our lifestyle, including hobbies, friends, activities.
Peoples’ lives are already in full swing, and usually overly busy to begin with. They have families to tend to, work commitments, hobbies, friends. None or few of their current associates will understand or sympathize with their new pursuit. And fewer still will join them. So they are still responsible for all the obligations already in their lives before meeting Sai. They may not be able to respond to last minute invitations or changes in plans, and so might miss lots of events. It helps attendance to give as much advance notice as possible.
Sai has His own timing. Sometimes, despite appearances to the contrary, it just isn’t the right time for some to come to Baba. Comfort yourself, however, that they did receive the blessing of learning about Him. Only He knows the right timing for each soul.
Just in case this is new information and relevant to you and your Center,
you will note that most westerners are completely clueless about Indian culture and notions of politesse. Please excuse us and give us time! It is
not ill will, just ignorance and shyness causing faux pas and awkwardness.
Most of us are willing to learn and accept people who are different from ourselves. Please teach us whenever you see the need. I assure you, it is necessary and will be appreciated! The sharing between cultures is in itself an expanding learning experience and one benefit that Indian Sai Community members can offer to westerners.
If everyone can relax and enjoy the adventure, we will all gain.
Suggestions about how to make a welcoming atmosphere
The meeting site
The ideal setting for Sai gatherings is a nondenominational building.
If at all possible, hold meetings in a place that has no stairs and has wheelchair accessible entries, parking and bathrooms for the disabled. I once found it necessary to tell an elderly couple not to come to the Sai Center, knowing that the stairs would be a danger for them. Reserve seats near the front for the hearing and sight disabled, and always use a loudspeaker. Be watchful for any aid these folks might need.
Try to find well lit and safe parking nearby.
A central location is very helpful.
Cooking facilities are helpful for special occasions. Otherwise, Baba advises us not to serve food at Sai events.
That first greeting
Any new face at a Sai event should be greeted in a friendly manner by the existing members. There should always be a specific committee member present to do this, in case no one else rises to the occasion.
If he/she does not already have one, offer the packet of printed literature given at the presentation. Include a flyer announcing the next presentation to be offered. It’s really helpful if all new and existing Center members make it a habit to wear first name tags. Be sure to offer the opportunity to sign up on the Center Mailing List.
Accompany the newcomer to a chair and make introductions all around to those seated nearby.
You will need to orient them a little by indicating that he/she
needs to remove shoes, that men and women sit separately and why, etc.
If they happen to show up in shorts or some other attire your Center feels is inappropriate, you’ll need to address that gently and without a judgmental tone. Acquaint them with your Center’s lending library of books, audios, videos. If the person is under 32, immediately introduce them to any other Young Adults.
If they continue to attend
If they continue to attend after a first meeting or two, it’s time to begin mentoring. For this, you may want to assign a committee member as a sort of buddy, to gently oversee that the newcomer gets on his/her way with assimilating.
Suggest they might like to join an existing seva project. Some folks are not accustomed to doing more for their spiritual life than attending Church services once in a while. Seva as worship is a new concept.
Suggest they might like to attend a bahjan learning session, tell them how to get a bahjan book of their own, and how to borrow english bahjan audios from which to learn. It goes without saying that there should always be lots of bahjans in the language of your Center’s host country, as Baba has directed.
If there are any disabled, elderly, or anyone else without transportation; see if they need a ride to the next event, and arrange for someone to pick them up.
THE COSMIC GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING
Witnessing a soul’s reawakening to Sathya Sai Baba will be among the most wonderful experiences of your life. Being involved in that dawning is a huge privilege, as it is of momentous import for that soul’s evolution.
And it is great fun! After all, when revealing the Avatar to an unsuspecting
audience, you are participating in a huge cosmic surprise gift!
Inevitably, a bond is formed, as you are blessed to accompany the people while they are touched at a level they may never have experienced before. Neither of you will ever forget it. And it is often your further privilege to watch miraculous transformations in lives and psyches.
And just think of it -- Baba could have chosen any manner at all to reintroduce Himself. He certainly does not depend on our giving presentations. But He has chosen to do it through you! It’s truly thrilling to find oneself participating in the dawning of the Golden Age in this manner.
I cannot imagine a more exciting or fulfilling seva or greater blessing.
And I know that you and all your Centers will feel the same. Good luck and enjoy!
My husband and I thank Bhagavan Baba from the bottom of our hearts for allowing us this delightful and soul satisfying privilege of reacquainting seekers with the Avatar and welcoming them to the Sai Community.
We humbly offer these thoughts and videos to Him on the occasion of the celebration of His 80th Birthday. September, 2005
Dear Sai Family,
Due to overwhelming demand for copies of video interviews with Sai devotees, we are happy to tell you that these videos and others will be available on www.kingdomofSai.org, beginning 11-23-05, Baba’s 80th Birthday. We are most grateful to Sai Rajesh Ramalingam, for his kind offer to include the Souljourns videos on the website.
You will find a text copy of “Presenting Sai Baba and Establishing Welcoming Seva” on www.kingdomofsai.org and on www.Souljourns.net. This is a manual of tried and true methods for anyone who aspires to tell the curious about Sai. A film of a sample Sai Baba Presentation will soon be available for viewing on www.kingdomofSai.org., as well as the text of the manual.
It’s with humble thanks to the Doer Himself that we offer these sevas.
We are grateful for the opportunity to serve Him and hope they prove helpful to you.
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Love and Sairam!